The Tennessee General Assembly

  • Senate Bill 588 that names the Sports Wagering Advisory Council (SWAC) as the regulatory body of the Tennessee sports betting industry passed on May 5.
  • The Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) has been the regulator of the sports wagering market in the Volunteer State since the industry launched in 2019.
  • The Lottery and the Council will continue to work together but the main regulatory role will be handed over to SWAC starting on January 1, 2022.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee General Assembly took it all the way to the end of their 2021 session on May 5, when it came to sports betting bills that would change the regulator of the industry.

Senate Bill 588 and House Bill 1267 were a set of companion bills that wanted to make the Sports Wagering Advisory Council (SWAC) the number one entity in charge of the sports wagering market of the Volunteer State.

The Tennessee Education Lottery (TEL) became the regulatory body for the Tennessee sports betting industry when the laws were passed in 2019. However, SWAC was created at the same time to help advise the lottery during meetings about the current state of the industry periodically throughout the year.

What The Bills Requested

Senate Bill 588 and House Bill 1267 both wanted the same thing. They wanted SWAC to head up the sports betting industry in Tennessee and have the TEL take on the role that SWAC currently inhabits.

The TEL would sit in on meetings and offer their opinions on issues happening within the regulated sports wagering market in the state. Only now, they would not have the final say, SWAC would. It’s a simple switch that makes a lot of sense when thought about in a logical manner. The lottery knows about the lottery, but the nine-member board of SWAC was handpicked with people that work in sports and legal areas; the two types of knowledge that are necessary when discussing regulated sports betting issues.

What Happened With The Bills In The End

The Tennessee General Assembly adjourned on May 5 for the 2021 session. Unfortunately, House Bill 1267 didn’t find much traction and died in the House. Votes came in on May 4 to pass Senate Bill 588 in the House with 73 Ayes and 13 Nays. Due to amendments, it went back to the Senate for another vote after originally passing on April 22. On May 5, the second Senate vote resulted in 27 AYES and 0 NAYS. Once the bill is signed by Governor Bill Lee, it will become an official new part of the sports betting law in the state.

The Tennessee General Assembly closed out 2021 on a favorable note for Senate Bill 588. The purely mobile sports betting industry in Tennessee stills has the same regulatory body but the slow transition to turn over the duties to SWAC has already begun. The TEL will remain the regulator until the end of the year, with SWAC on the sidelines. A “parent trap” of sports wagering regulators has been accomplished in Tennessee through this legislation just in time for the session’s end.

Tennessee will have a new sports gaming regulator in SWAC beginning on January 1, 2022, and both the TEL and SWAC are excited about their new roles. In a meeting held on Tuesday, it was said that this was the right move moving forward with the market as the lottery already has enough on its plate with lottery duties. This switch will ease the amount of work on their shoulders while still allowing them to provide input. And it fully utilizes SWAC for the purposes of which it was meant for. A win/win for the Tennessee sports wagering industry and its future successes.

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